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Opposition bandh against price rise hits services

Last updated on: April 27, 2010 12:18 IST

The nationwide strike called by Left parties and their allies on Tuesday to protest Centre's "failure" to check price rise hit normal life in many parts of the country.

Air and rail services were hit and normal life disrupted in Kolkata and elsewhere in West Bengal.

The bandh shut businesses and disrupted transport services by road, rail and flight operations. Metro railways spokesperson said their services were normal.

Airport sources said 10 out of 25 domestic and international flights took off in the morning. While fights of Air-India, Jet Airways and Jetlite took off as scheduled in the morning, services of other private airlines were badly hit with many passengers stranded at the airport.

CPI-M's workers's union CITU affiliated-Airports Authority of India Employees Union office-bearers had said that they would impose strike in the airport.

Eastern Railway spokesperson told PTI that due obstructions put up by bandh supporters at several stations, train services were disrupted at Howrah and Sealdah division. Long-distance trains were stranded at various stations as bandh supporters sat on the railway tracks.

Two train passengers were injured as a clash broke out between the passengers of Ganga Sagar Express and bandh supporters at Pandua station in Hoogly district on Tuesday morning. Abdul Razzak and Shanti Devi were injured when they along with other passengers tried to stop bandh supporters from stopping the train and putting up a banner.

The streets in Kolkata wore a deserted look with state-run buses, private vehicles, taxis, auto-rickshaws remaining off the road since 6 am as the bandh began. Shops and educational institutions were closed, officials said.

Left Front Chairman Biman Bose said the bandh has been a spontaneous protest against price rise.

Leader of the Opposition and senior Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee said the Left Front government itself had failed to control price rise and take action against hoarding and black marketing in the state.

State Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu said buses and trams would run if drivers and conductors report for duty. "I cannot give any assurance. It depends on the employees and do not feel any extra arrangement needs to be made," he said.

The SUCI(C), a Left opposition in West Bengal and Trinamool Congress poll-partner, has called a 24-hour nationwide bandh. Trinamool Congress, Congress and BJP have opposed the bandh.

Bandh will cost Bengal about Rs 500 cr
The Bharat bandh called by the ruling Left Front in West Bengal will cost the state close to Rs 500 crore what with an estimated production loss of 61-62 per cent.

"According to a rough estimate by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the total loss due to a 12-hour bandh in West Bengal would be approximately Rs 496 crore of the Gross State Domestic Product," ICC Senior Vice-President P Jayanta Roy said.

"Annually the percentage loss per bandh to gross and net SDP stands at 0.21 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. Quantification of non-economic loss is, however, not feasible," Roy said.

"This mainly includes loss of investors' interests, damage to state's impression to prospective investors, damage to industrial climate, socio-political unrest etc," he added.

Uttar Pradesh
Rail services were disrupted in many parts of Uttar Pradesh and three buses were torched in state capital Lucknow allegedly by Samajwadi Party workers during a nation-wide bandh called by the Left and non-BJP parties.

Scores of SP activists were detained in Allahabad while trying to disrupt rail traffic. More than 50 SP workers gathered at the Prayag railway station at around 5 am in the morning and squatted on the tracks, obstructing the movement of Lucknow-bound GangaGomati Express, police said.

The agitating SP workers were detained by GRP personnel following which the train could leave the station at 6 am, half-an-hour behind schedule.

While the SP workers torched two buses in Krishna Nagar and Ashiyana areas in the wee hours, another was set ablaze in front of Vidhan Bhawan building, they said.

The SP workers also stopped trains at several places in the state including Lucknow and Pratapgarh, the sources said, adding that some people were detained in this connection.

Rashtriya Lok Dal and CPI workers took out a procession and staged dharna at Hazratganj crossing in Lucknow disrupting traffic movement.

In Ghaziabad, Samajwadi Party workers stopped the Lucknow-bound Shatabdi at the railway station for around 20 minutes. Some trains on way to Delhi were also blocked, railway sources said.

Daily commuters between Meerut and Delhi were stranded as private buses were not plying on the stretch. In Modinagar, Lok Dal leader and Chairman Modinagar Nagar Palika Sudesh Sharma along with his supporters blocked traffic.

Authorities have made tight security arrangements in view of the bandh. ADG (Law and Order) Brij Lal said around 2700 PAC personnel have been sent to different districts to ensure law and order.

The dawn-to-dusk bandh called by the Left and their allies disrupted rail and road traffic in Kerala.

Bandh supporters stopped trains at different stations. Both private and state-run bus services, taxis, auto-rickshaws and commercial vehicles kept off the roads, police said.

Trade union wings of these parties have also extended support to the protest.

In the wake of the bandh, universities have postponed exams scheduled for the day.

Vehicular movement was paralysed across Orissa as bandh supporters blocked national highways, state highways and other roads, putting a halt to plying of passenger buses, trucks, taxis and auto-rickshaws, police sources said.

Rail services were also affected as trains were stopped at different stations for a brief period, they said.

Security was tightened throughout the state with deployment of about 2000 security personnel in various places to deal with any eventuality during the strike called by seven non-Congress and non-BJP political parties in the state.

In Bhabaneswar, shops, business establishments and commercial outfits remained closed during the bandh.

The strike affected work in central government offices, public sector units, including NALCO, post offices and banks as bandh supporters resorted to picketing and prevented staff from entering their offices, sources said.

Work was also affected in East Cost Railway (ECoR) headquarters due to picketing by bandh supporters, but emergency arrangements had been made by railway authorities to maintain basic functioning, an official said.

The shutdown also affected normal life in various places like Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Balasore, Puri, Balangir, Baripada and Khurda.

Shops and markets were closed and vehicles were off the road across Tripura, but there was no report of any untoward incident, official sources said.

Schools, colleges, banks and financial institutions remained closed and no attendance was registered in the Civil Secretariat in Agartala, the sources said.

Train and air service were also hit.

Arunachal Pradesh
Banks and Central government offices, post offices and BSNL offices, shops and markets and educational institutions remained closed.

State Transport department office said not a single bus plied on Tuesday.

Andhra Pradesh
The TDP-Left-sponsored bandh in Andhra Pradesh saw opposition activists holding protests across the state.

Leaders and workers of opposition parties staged sit-ins in front of depots of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) at Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, and several other places.

Passengers had a tough time as APSRTC suspended its services at various places as a precautionary measure.

In Hyderabad, activists of TDP, CPI and CPI-M and their allies held protests in the city and asked people to take part in the bandh voluntarily.

APSRTC suspended some of its services in the city also causing inconvenience to many commuters and office-goers. TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu, CPI State secretary K Narayana and his CPI-M counterpart B V Raghavulu would participate in the protest later in the day.

No untoward incident has been reported so far from any part of the state.

More than 4000 bandh supporters, including Lok Janshakti Party president Ramvilas Paswan and other opposition leaders, were rounded up in Patna.

Bandh supporters blocked roads, squatted on railway tracks and markets remained closed.

Paswan, RJD leader and former Union Minister Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav, CPI-ML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, besides several MLAs and MLCs belonging to various opposition parties in Bihar, were rounded up from different parts of the state, official sources said.

In Patna, shops and major business establishments downed their shutters, long distance buses did not ply, schools and colleges remained closed and traffic was seen plying in depleted numbers.

Paswan, accompanied by Yadav and RJD Secretary General Ramkripal Yadav, led a procession of activists of the RJD-LJP combine and jammed the busy Dakbungalow roundabout in Patna.

Police detained Paswan and thousands of other bandh supporters and shifted them to a camp jail on the outskirts of the state capital.

CPI-M leader Dipankar Bhattacharya too was arrested while leading a separate procession of his party in the state capital to enforce the bandh.

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